Fireboard 2 and Signals BBQ Alarm are two of the best food thermometers on the market. Either thermometer would be enough to satisfy any pitmaster who is not afraid of high-tech gadgets. I wanted to put these two thermometers under the microscope, and do an in-depth analysis to see which theremometer is best.
Signals is a wireless barbecue thermometer produced by the world’s leading thermometer company, ThermoWorks. Fireboard is arguably the most advanced meat thermometer on the market with its innovative technology and 6-probe setup. Signals is more expensive, and can only run 4 probes. Fireboard 2 is more affordable, and has the ability to run 6 probes at one time.
Check out the Fireboard 2 over at Fireboard Labs. For more information on Signals, head over to thermoworks.com.
- ThermoWorks are industry leaders when it comes to food thermometers, so you don’t have to worry about quality. However, Thermoworks products can be overpriced.
- Personally, I don’t think Signals is worth the extra money. Although you do get one extra probe with Signals which is worth $20.
- There are other companies, like Fireboard Labs, who are producing high-quality products at a more affordable price. For this reason, I think Fireboard is the preferred thermometer in this price range.
- With Fireboard, you also get better software, and 2 extra channels. The Fireboard 2 software is far superior, and has 2 extra channels.
- Although the Signals app has improved, it’s not as user friendly as the FB2 app.
- Many reviewers argue the Signals probes are better quality, but I’m yet to see this put to the test. As long as you take care of the probes, the Fireboard will last a while. Even if you break a few probes, they only cost $15 to replace.
- These two thermometers are equal in many areas, especially as standalone units. However, once you go deeper into software and graphing, the Fireboard comes out on top.
Head-To-Head: Fireboard 2 vs Signals
|Signals BBQ Alarm||Fireboard 2|
|Price||$239 (check latest)||$189 (check latest)|
|Wireless||Wi-Fi Radio – 802.11b/g/n (2.4 Ghz)|
Wi-Fi Range – dependent on router
Bluetooth Version – 4.2
|WiFi: 802.11 a/b/g/n & Bluetooth 4.0|
|Bluetooth Range||95 ft line-of-sight||200-300 ft unobstructed|
|Probe Range||-58 to 572°F (-50 to 300°C)||-94 to 752°F (-70 to 400°C)|
|Probe Dimensions||6 L x 0.13 inches dia. reduces to 0.08 inches dia.|
(152.4 L x 3 mm dia. reduces to 2 mm dia.)
|Operating Temp||32 to 122°F (0 to 50°C)||-13 to 140°F (-25 to 60°C)|
|Probes||4 ( 3 food, 1 ambient/oven)||3 (2 food, 1 ambient/oven)|
|Battery||12V US adapter||Li-Ion 4000 mAh Rechargeable|
|Battery Continuous Use||16 hours||30 hours|
|Charging Time||12 hours|
|Waterproof||IP66 Splash Proof||Weather resistant case|
|Stand-Alone Unit Ability||Yes||Yes|
|Product Size||3.26 in H x 5.19 in W x 1.92 D in. (83 H x 132 W x 49 D mm)||2.8 in, H x 4.4 in W x x 1.1 in D ( 72mm x 112mm x 29 mm)|
|Product Weight||8 oz|
|Screen||101 mm W, 48 mm H, backlit||256 mm W x 128 mm H, black and white, backlit|
|Cable Length||3.9 ft. (47 in, 1.2m)||6 ft. (72 in, 1.8 m)|
The Apps – Signals vs Fireboard 2
When comparing the Apps, Fireboard leads the way with the software. In fact, I would put the FB2 software up against any thermometer on the market. Thermoworks make great products, but the Thermoworks App is frustrating, and not user-friendly. The original version of Signals had a terrible App experience, but ThermoWorks have made an upgrade and it is much improved.
Graphing – Signals vs Fireboard 2
Signals and Fireboard 2 can monitor cooks from anywhere in the world where there is a Wi-Fi connection. Both thermometers have graphing available, but the Fireboard 2 graphing is far superior.
The Signals thermometer will graph your cook, but you have to download them from the Cloud. Again, early versions of Thermoworks App and Cloud received a lot of negative feedback from customers. This forced ThermoWorks to improve the App and Cloud, but it still trails Fireboard 2.
Probes – Signals vs Fireboard 2
Signals ships with 4 probes, 3 for meat, and 1 ambient probe for your pit. Even though the Fireboard 2 can run 6 probes, it only ships with 3 (1 ambient probe, and 2 meat probes). Fireboard produces several probes sold on the Firboard website.
Fireboard App Probe Calibration. A cool function of the Fireboard is you can recalibrate the probes on the app. Let’s say one of your probes is out by 10°. You can note this on the calibration settings, so you can at least have that knowledge that one of your probes is inaccurate.
You can check all your probes by doing an ice bath test, and you can find out how to do that by clicking this article. Once you have done an ice bath test on your probes, you will know how accurate they are.
You can then go into the settings on the app and make the adjustments so that what is being displayed is accurate. This is an exceptional feature, something Signals does not have.
Recalibrating a Signals Probe. Thermoworks say your thermometers should be within + – 1.8° F and 32° F. This can be tested by doing an ice bath test. December works manual encourages users to contact tech support if the thermometers are outside this range.
Download the operating instructions, where you can figure out how to recalibrate signals.
Fireboard produce a variety of probes and sell different probe packs. You can mix-and-match all the various probe types.
All probe types come with a 6 ft cable and are 100k thermistor probes and have a range between 0 and 572° F. The Competition Series sells for about $85.
Competition Series Probe Pack The Competition Series comes with six probes: two small, and four regular 75 mm. This also includes smaller 28 mm probes, with a diameter of 1.8 mm.
These small probes are perfect for smoking ribs, or smaller cuts of meat. The standard 6-in probe is too big to leave in a rack of ribs, but these small competition probes are perfect for ribs.
Ambient Probes. Fireboard sell specific ambient probes that are designed to sit on the grill grate rather than being inserted into meat.
Probe Identifiers. The Signals and the Fireboard both come with a probe identifier. These little color coded probe rings allow you to see which probe is which.
This feature is important when using multiple probes. It isn’t such a problem when you’re only running one or two. On the Signals, the colors even show up on the App, also the rings will be identifiable on the connection ports.
Probe Pouch. To save getting tangled, Fireboard now sells probe pouches.
Probe Temperature Range. The Fireboard 2 probes can handle 572° F, which is identical to the signals, which also have the same maximum temperature. Signals have a cable maximum temperature of 700° F.
Sous-Vide Probes. Another cool thing I love about Fireboard are the sous-vide probes. If you’re not familiar with sous-vide barbecue, then check out this article. Basically sous vide is a fancy French cooking method, that has become a popular trend in barbecue in recent years.
Sous-vide cooking involves placing vacuum package meat in a water bath. Fireboard had designed special probes for the sous-vide method, which makes total sense. These water proof probes that are able to spend a large amount of time in water.
Sous-vide is the best way to reheat barbecue, and will restore your leftovers to almost as good after you retrieved it from the pit. To check out how to sous-vide your leftovers, check out this article.
The sous-vide probes from Fireboard itself from around about $15. Check the latest price here.
There are two types of probes suitable for sous-vide cooking. The probe with the 100k thermistor has a temperature range 0 to 572° F. The RTD sous-vide probe has a temperature range of 0 to 716° F.
Quality. Thermoworks have a reputation for producing high-quality probes. Signals ships with 3 standard meat probes, and one ambient probe. However, by going on to the Thermoworks website, you can buy a variety of probes for specific cooking for only $20 each.
Probe variety. Thermoworks also produce miniature probes for cooking ribs, larger probes for big roasts, or waterproof probes for sous-vide cooking. All these probes are suitable and compatible with the Signals thermometer.
Pro Series Probes. Pro Series probes by ThermoWorks use a thermistor sensor and are commercial grade quality. Manufactured in Utah, these thermometers are seen in all Thermoworks products such as Signals, Smoke, and the popular DOT.
Sous-Vide Probes. Thermoworks sell a waterproof sous-vide probe for about $20. Can be fully immersed up to 372° F, and the cable can handle 500° F. The sous-vide probe is 3.5 in long, with a diameter of 0.47in. Also available in this style probe is the Pro Series waterproof needle probe.
These are 0.0625 in diameter, which is very thin and perfect for sous vide cooking. They sell for about $20.
Standard Pro Series Probes. You can buy extra Pro Series probes for about $20, which are standard straight penetration probes. They have a maximum temperature of 644° F, with a cable temperature up to 700° F. These thermometers have a response time of 5 to 6 seconds, and a 4.5 in length, and 0.13 in diameter with a 47-in cable.
Pro Series High Temp Cooking Probes. You can also add on a high temperature cooking probe, which is 6 in long. These probes can reach a maximum temperature of 644° F, with a cable temperature max of 700° F. These are general purpose probes, and a suitable for large roasts. They also sell for about $20.
Mini Probes.Thermoworks have designed some miniature probes that can monitor the temperature of shrimp, racks of ribs, sausages, etc. Only 2.5 in long, these tiny thermometers have a diameter of 0.0625 inches.
Fireboard vs Signals – What Do They Have In Common?
The Fireboard and Signals have pros and cons, and they share many pros. Here are a few things you can expect from both thermometers.
When you pick up either unit, they feel solid. Both are well constructed, and would survive any knocks. The Signals and Fireboard have protective casing, which will also prevent them from water damage.
Signals has very durable housing, with well-molded seals, and splash proof protection. This is important because the moment is a used outside and around lots of moisture. Also, if you smoked me for a while, you would know that it can get quite hectic and often you are multitasking.
So accidents can happen, things can fall off the shelf, etc. If you’re spending big dollars on a thermometer, you want it to have quality housing and both these thermometers perform well in this area.
The original Fireboard wasn’t waterproof and was one of the main reasons they upgraded to Fireboard 2. Uses had to place the original Fireboard in zip-lock bags just for protection and Fireboard charged customers and extra $50 for a casing.
I think Fireboard did this to keep the price low, because it was already probably the most expensive thermometer on the market. However, with five or two, you no longer need to buy the casing because the unit is well built and comparable with Signals.
Another advantage that both units have in common is the ability to use the transmitters as standalone receiver. Some meat thermometers on the market require a mobile phone connection and have to be controlled by the app.
The Signals and the Fireboard can work by themselves, without needing to go through an app. Signals are designed to work as a standalone unit, which is perfect for people who want to bypass the technology. This gives us the best of both worlds, because some people love the merging of technology and barbecue.
Signals has a huge dashboard style display that will label each channel to your customizable name (beef, pork, pit). In large font, it will show the current temperature, so you can eyeball the display from afar.
Next to the large font of the current temperature, it will display your high temperature alarm and your low temperature alarm. Each channel also has a volume level, and this will be visible within each channel. You might want to only have the volume high for the pit, and keep the other volumes muted.
The display also shows the battery level, which is important because you do not want your thermometer dying 3/4 of the way through a brisket cook. It will also show the Wi-Fi status, and will show the signal strength.
Signals and Fireboard give the use of the option of customizing each channel (probe) name. So you can name one channel “beef”, the other “pork”, etc. This is extremely important when dealing with multiple probes. This is a great function and works well with the color coding system both thermometers offer.
Custom Display. Both the Fireboard and Signals have excellent displays where you have the option of being able to see all channels at one glance. Signals will display all four channels on one screen, whereas the Fireboard will display all six.
Fireboard allows you to have different screen options, so at the press of a button on the side of the controller, it gives you a variety of different views. Some views have graphing available, or you can have the six tiles with large temperature readings so you can see everything simultaneously.
Signals – A Full Review
Signals Display. The signals thermometer will display high and low alarms at a glance. In large font, it will display the current temperature. To the left, it will display the alarms that you have set, or the parameters. On the top is your maximum temperature, and below is your minimum temperature. Once the temperature goes outside these parameters, it will alarm.
Signals Alarm. You can customize each channel to alarm within the parameters you set. If you don’t want your internal temperature of your brisket to go above 200° F, then you would set this as your maximum temperature.
If you don’t want your meat to go below 32° F, then you would set this as your bottom temperature. As long as the meat stays within this range, it will not alarm. The current temperature would be displayed in large font so you can see where it’s at.
Monitoring Pit Temperature. The alarm that will probably alert the most will be the pit alarm. Signals comes with an ambient probe, which will clip to your grill. Obviously, this is probably the most important channel, especially if you are using a charcoal smoker.
And as you would know, charcoal smokers fluctuate depending on the weather and other factors such as opening the lid, opening vents too much or too little.
Let’s say you want to cook at 225° F, you would set the maximum temperature to 250° F and the minimum temperature at 200° F. As long as your pit stays within this range, you should be fairly happy.
However, if your smoking gets out of control, or dips in temperature, the signals will let you know. Then, you can make the adjustments.
Backlight. Signals has a back-light function where you can press the button, and for 20 seconds the screen will light up.
Price. The signals thermometer sells for about $240. The fireball two cells for $189. When weighing up all the features of these two thermometers, I prefer the fire board too, simply because it is better value for money, and gives you the option of two extra channels.
Customer Service. You are dealing with two companies that excel in customer service, so if you have any problems, they are happy to replace any faulty items. From my experience, ThermoWorks go above and beyond with customer service.
Warranty. If I bought comes with a 1-year warranty. All other Thermoworks products are covered by a one-year warranty, but Signals has a 2-year warranty which will guarantee against defects. The probes, however, only come with a 6-month warranty.
Signals Cloud. The Signals cloud will keep the data for your previous 10 cooks. On the cloud you can access temperature graphs, alert history, high and low temps.
Since it only keeps data for your last 10 cooks on the cloud, you have the option of downloading the data and store it in an archive on your phone. The cloud gives you the ability to track your cook online, on any device that you can access.
Signal Strength Of Signals. For Bluetooth, the signals thermometer will work within 95 ft. This means you can be 95 ft away from your signals device, which is set up near your grill or smoker.
However, I find Bluetooth extremely frustrating, and if there are any walls between the controller and your phone, then you’re not going to get a good signal. Microwave ovens and walls, to cause a lot of signal interruptions with Bluetooth.
Wi-Fi Signals. Best option is to use the Wi-Fi, because as long as you have a strong Wi-Fi connection, you’re going to get a reading. Make sure you have a strong Wi-Fi connection though, because if your router is too old, you could have a problem.
How to set up alarms on signals. You can either set the alarms on the signals device, or you can set the alarms via the app on your phone or tablet. Send me alarms is fairly straightforward, no different to setting any alarm on your phone if you’ve used some sort of app timer or alarm before.
Battery Life Of Signals. The battery will last about 13 to 16 hours on the signals thermometer. This would depend on how often the signals device is sending data to the cloud. You can set the intervals to where the thermometer sends data to the cloud, which will prolong your battery life.
You can set them either 15, 30, or 60 seconds apart. If you’re concerned about battery life, I would recommend setting the cloud uploads every 60 seconds.
Obviously, the thermometer will also use extra battery power if the alarm is constantly going off. Make sure you set the alarms within reason, so they’re not going off constantly.
It takes about 10 to 12 hours to charge the signals thermometer. If you can, you’re better off using signals while plugged in just to play it safe. The signals thermometer comes with a 12 volt adaptor. You cannot charge signals with a standard USB 5 volt adaptor.
Check out Signals here.
Fireboard 2 – Full Review
Probe Organisers. Since the Fireboard has multiple probes, they can get messy when you’re trying to cook multiple meats. Storing multiple probes can also be a pain. Fireboard makes probe organizers which help you keep your probes tidy and you can buy them from the Fireboard website.
Fireboard cloud and graphing. A feature that sets the Fireboard part is you can post pictures along your graph, so you can see before, during and after photos of your meat. This becomes a little of a photo journal, where you can look back over previous cooks.
Unlike Signals, Fireboard will keep your entire cook history which you can access on the app. All your sessions will be recorded and kept on your phone.
It will display the type of smoker you are using, the meat you are cooking, and it will show the temperature range and the graph. They will have the date and all the pictures that you attached during the cook session.
If you’re interested in Fireboard 2, click here.